Visiting some relatives up north, we decided to stop in Warren, a small town in mid-coast Maine, to meet a very unusual winemaker named Brian Smith from Oyster River Winegrowers.
Brian is a winemaker in Maine; yes Maine! They do make wine up there and not simply blueberry wine, they also make Merlot, Cayuga, Cab, etc. But what sets Brian apart is that he is making organic wine with the help of his Belgian Draft Horse, Don.
Some of the grapes he is starting to bottle are grown there, and some are bought from different states (New York and California). Brian first learned how to make wine while working in a Vermont vineyard for two and half years, and then studied winemaking at Fresno University. Since his wife is from Maine, he then decided to set up a farm in Warren and make wine the way he thinks is best: by respecting nature.
His wines made from Maine-grown grapes are high in acidity, as the grapes never achieve a good amount of sugar. Indeed, the growing season is not the warmest here in Maine. With a BRIX (sugar level) around 16, Brain says that his grapes are best for sparkling wine.
We tasted some of his sparkling wine which will be released next year, and also tried a cider made with an unusual blend of apples (52% Golden Russet, 26% Dabinett, 9% Esopus Spitzenburg, 7% Blushing Granny, 3% Golden Delicious, 2% Ida Red, 1% Calville Blanc d’Hiver).
But what’s really surprising is a Petite Sirah with 16.5% alcohol… Brian just wanted to let the grape express all its flavors…
Other wines from Oyster River include:
A dry Riesling
Villager White – 50/50 Seyval Blanc, Cayuga
Villager Pink – Merlot
Villager Red – Mourvedre, Nero d’Avola, Carignan, Merlot
Sparkling 2012, AKA “Panacea” – Frontenac Gris, Cayuga
Check the sample video here…[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/61267898]